Lee Odden

5 Must Read Reports on Social Media & Public Relations

Social Media Public RelationsMonday I shared tips on how to leverage Google to find disparate, useful resources for use with sourcing content on blog posts. Working with my new blogging partner in crime, @DFolkens, this post is an output from  following that advice.

In many companies, social media efforts are managed by those in Public Relations. While social technology reaches across all communication channels in all departments, there’s an inherent fit between PR and “being social.” As Public Relations firms and the PR functions within companies try to make sense of the sheer volume of advice on “social this” and “social that” being published on blogs, newsletters, mainstream media and trade publications, I’ve used Google search to find 5 useful reports giving strategic to practical advice on how Social Media and Public Relations intersect. Enjoy:

Pew Internet Future of Social Relations
Pew Internet & American Life Project:  The Future of Social Relations

This report isn’t specifically about PR, but it strikes home with insights about how the public is increasingly using social media.  The Internet has obviously made a dramatic impact on social interaction in virtually every society around the world but do people believe it’s actually improving social relations (friendships, marriage) or harming them? That was the focus of this project which evaluated answers from 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The participants were asked to look forward ten years to answer the question of has the internet been a “mostly positive” or “mostly negative” force on their social world. Many of the responses acknowledge both sides of the issue citing, for example, that increasing connectivity may feed privacy concerns. It’s an interesting concept and those replying positive outnumbered the negatives by over a five to one margin.

Vocus 2011 Planning Survey Social Media
Social Media Comes of Age:  The Vocus 2011 Planning Survey

For a few years now social media has been working its way into the job responsibilities of many PR people across the country. As a new year begins, how are PR people feeling about the coming year in terms of priorities, budgets, and the growth of social media? Most appear to be looking forward to greater growth. Vocus surveyed 508 professionals with about half of them identified as PR pros and the other half being a mix of social media specialists, search marketers, and advertising professionals.

Top findings include 60 percent of respondents said PR will be more challenging in 2011. The dynamics of social media and budgets were among the top reasons why. Measurement  and strategic communications join social media as the top areas where responders see more effort in the coming year.

Harvard Business Review - Taking Social Media from Talk to Action
Harvard Business Review (sponsored by SAS)  The New Conversation:  Taking Social Media from Talk to Action

Despite the popularity and rush by many companies to enter the social media space, it’s clear that there is still a long way to go before the full market and many organizations fully understand their ultimate role. Nearly two-thirds of the companies surveyed are using social media but 75 percent said they did not know where their most valuable customers were talking about them and more surprising, just seven percent of participating companies indicated they were able to integrate social media into their marketing activities.

Fedex Ketchum Modern Social Media Landscape

The 2010 FedEx/Ketchum Social Media Benchmarking Study:   Leading Brands and the Modern Social Media Landscape
This study focuses heavily on how social media impacts today’s communications landscape. It crosses major industries from top global organizations exploring their current experience to date with social media and where these organizations continue to explore the right structure and investment to test the benefits for their brands. All of those surveyed have some level of social media effort underway though many indicate there will be continued learning.

HubSpot: How to Leverage Social Media for Public Relations

HubSpot: How to Leverage Social Media for Public Relations Success

“Using Social Media to Generate Media Coverage and Improve Brand Sentiment” from HubSpot is an ebook that seeks to provide a number of strategies and tips to integrate social media into a larger PR strategy. Rather than viewing social media as a threat to traditional PR as many have, this approach views social media as a natural and critical extension to what brands have done in the past. Customers have always talked about brands and that will continue but the importance of monitoring and engaging is greater than ever before due to the speed with which information, good or bad, travels in the online world.

Certainly there are many other reports, white papers, case studies and research published in 2010 about the intersection of Public Relations and Social Media.  This post serves as both a practical example of using Google search to find useful content for curation and hopefully a useful collection of helpful resources on PR and Social.  If there are some great reports on the topic that are not on this list, please share in the comments.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Black Seo Guy says

    2010 I wasn’t too big on social media..but in 2011 I will be paying more attention because I see it something we all must adapt to if we want to really go global.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. This opened my eyes! Thanks a million for sharing, Lee!

  3. I think much like the other forms of traditional media – newspapers and radio – the PR industry will slowly become obsolete as well. Social media has allowed companies and individuals to have direct contact with the publishers, cutting out the middleman.

    That is unless PR companies adapt to social media and give up the reigns of control, which they are used to.

    • Thanks for your comment Mike. Certainly, if PR stays static it will become obsolete. Just like any other professional practice, but the role of PR isn’t about being a middleman anymore.

      Savvy and progressive PR agencies are still storytellers but also consult on message creation and distribution. There is some convergence with PR and Marketing functions with the growing reach and importance of social channels.

      I agree, the notion of control is outdated and most PR firms that I interact with these days get that. They’re just in a transition period right now and dealing with persistent client demands of “command and control”.

  4. That is such a great wealth of information. Thank you so much.

  5. Great way to make good on my resolution to learn more this year. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Lee – I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and you always have such great information – thanks to @Dfolkens also! Even though this article focuses mostly on the PR aspects of social media, as a marketing professional I can say that it is definitely helpful for the rest of us too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks a lot for this treasure of information.

    Really appreciated.

  8. one of the great post
    thanks and regards

  9. Your article is a fantastic resource – had to share it today over at the Social Media Zone under commPRO.biz’s umbrella – maybe you’d consider an interview,